19 January 2011

Hebrews 7:1-17

"It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life." (vv. 15-16)


Some occupations run in families! There were priestly families in Israel which meant that fathers handed on their roles to one of their sons. The writer to the Hebrews towards the end of the 1st century after the death of Christ was aware that anyone couldn't decide to be a priest and serve in the Temple. You were only was chosen for this role if you belonged to the 'right family'. Becoming a priest therefore depended on who you were related to. 

The writer is convinced that Jesus is our high priest not because he was born to a priestly family (after all Joseph was a carpenter) but because he died for us and because God raised him to life again. The writer describes the resurrected Jesus as having an "indestructible life". Jesus dies; God raises him and then places Jesus at "his right hand" (Hebrews 8:1), close to him. The writer wants to convey the closeness of relationship, the intimacy in the relationship between Jesus and God. 

There is also an indication that Jesus has power, not for his own sake but for others' benefit. And where Jesus leads all humanity can follow. Jesus dies and is raised from death; similarly humanity can die and will be raised. Jesus can know God intimately; all humanity can know God intimately. In this sense Jesus brings all humanity into the presence of God and the presence of God into all people and to every aspect of our lives. This re-presenting, this making God accessible, real and close, rather than remote or distant is what God achieves through Jesus' life and death, his rising and ascending. 

To Ponder

What things do we inherit from others over which we have no control?

What does it mean for you for Jesus to have power?

What is comforting and what is frightening about an "indestructible life"?

Bible notes author

Revd Helen Cameron

Helen Cameron is a Methodist presbyter and Chair of the Northampton District. Prior to this she was the Assistant Secretary of the Conference and Director of Methodist Formation at the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham.